Q&A with Dr. David Holben, New Chair of Nutrition and Hospitality Management
Dr. David Holben came to the University of Mississippi’s School of Applied Sciences in the Fall Semester of 2015. He is both professor and chair for the Nutrition and Hospitality Management Department. In this interview, Holben talks his interest in the University of Mississippi, his academic backround, and the future of the NHM department.
Applied Sciences: Tell us about your background in academia.
David Holben: I was the first college graduate of my family, graduating from Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s dietetics program. As an undergraduate student, I was a research assistant and a lab assistant for nutrition faculty. By the time that I graduated with my BS degree, I knew that I eventually wanted to be a college professor.
After securing the Registered Dietitian Nutrition credential, I began teaching part-time at Wayne State University, while working full-time in clinical dietetics and going to school at night to earn a master’s degree. As a clinical dietitian, I was always curious and sought answers to questions through small research projects.
After working at two major medical centers and being part of interdisciplinary teams, I quit work “cold turkey,” sold my house, and became a doctoral student at The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio. With GA and fellowship support, I trained as a basic scientist studying the micronutrient, selenium. With both teaching and research experience, I easily secured a position at Youngstown State University. Desiring a more residential campus, I moved to Ohio University, Athens, Ohio, where I was on the faculty for 18 years. At Ohio University, I secured tenure, eventually being promoted to Professor. While there, I held a variety of positions including leading a research institute and serving as an associate dean (faculty development). I am most proud of being awarded two Fulbright Scholar Awards for research on food insecurity and health outcomes and being awarded the university’s highest teaching honor, University Professor.
Finally, my academic career story would not be complete without mentioning my Army dietetics experience. As a Major in the medical specialist corps, I trained Army and Air Force officers in the U.S. Military-Baylor Graduate Program in Nutrition and the U.S.Military Dietetic Internship Consortium at Fort Sam Houston, San Antonio, Texas.
What is it about the field of nutrition and hospitality management that excites you?
I love that both nutrition and hospitality management affect everyone. They have application to our lives, which makes both research and service easy and fun for me!
What do you like so far about Oxford, Mississippi and Ole Miss?
Both my family and I love the family-friendly atmosphere of Oxford and Ole Miss. We love the opportunities for learning and leisure activities. Honestly, my favorite part about living in Oxford is being about 8 minutes from loading my kayak into the van to paddling on the lake.
In your opinion, what are some of the strengths the NHM Department has established at the University of Mississippi?
I most appreciate that the faculty and staff had the foresight to secure a doctoral program in Nutrition and Hospitality Management, developing a Center focused on health and sport nutrition, and to develop programs that are student-centered.
What can we expect in the future from the department?
You can expect great things! Our new doctoral program and ever-growing Center of Health and Sports Performance will shape our campus to be even more vibrant than it already is.
What are some of your hobbies and interests outside of academia?
I love the outdoors, especially kayaking and gardening. I also enjoy theater productions and traveling with my family.
Any last words?
It is an honor to be on the faculty at University of Mississippi, and I look forward to learning and growing here at Ole Miss.